Picture yourself sleepless in Seattle. You stumble across a little place called Fran’s Chocolates which smells nothing short of divine. On the wall, you see this photograph titled “Portrait in Chocolate”.
From one end of the shop, it looks like a young girl’s smiling face. As you move nearer, you realize that the face is made up entirely of chocolates. Everything from dark, cocoa-dusted truffles to white chocolate-cased pralines. (Mmmmm.)
Up close, they’re just a bunch of individual treats mixed up with each other. It’s impossible to see the girl’s smiling face. It’s not until you step back and see them all from another perspective that you understand what they’re doing there. They each have their own job, but only work properly as a collective.
It’s like cooking. I have a favorite ribs recipe that I love to make on a slow Sunday. It’s only when the ingredients are put together that magic gets made in the crock pot. One of those is horseradish. On its own, bleccch. But when combined with everything else? The whole thing’s delicious. In fact, you wouldn’t even know the horseradish was there.
Have you ever got so tangled up in the details of a ‘thing’ that someone’s said:
“You need to look at the bigger picture.”
That’s definitely happened to me. Especially working in personal finance, it’s crucial to be so up close and personal with the details you can almost taste them. But if you develop a bit too much of an obsession for the minutiae, you risk losing sight of what you’re actually trying to achieve. For me, that could be deciding the best investment to make. The details would have me analyzing it by numbers and percentages and returns. Sure, that needs to be done, but it’s just a bunch of data. It’s only the bigger picture that would have me considering WHY. What’s the purpose of the investment?
Stepping back can help you see everything in a new light (a twilight glow, perhaps) and let the final pieces of the puzzle slot right into place. Getting caught up in the details just puts you in a vacuum. And good decisions don’t get made in a vacuum.
So when there’s a radio bulletin talking about the next economy crisis…
Or interest rates go up…
Or when the National Debt reaches a new record high...
The answer isn’t to focus on that one issue or event or day on its own and base your plan on it. The answer is to take a breath and look at the bigger picture.
Or call me ;)
(Oh, and DON’T PANIC!)